I’m still seeing the features of Americans
in the faces of the English, shades
of somebody else from somewhere else,
of seven months spent away, brief glimpses.
Peripheral passersby who steal
a stateside shape for only a second.
Whose sunglasses are the same as Nathan’s,
and whose walk is the same weird one
as Owen’s, always leaning a little to the left.
always getting worse when he was drunk.

I see Rebecca most often,
on a daily basis in different places.
She is the checkout girl in the supermarket
where I work, and the subsequent awkward
coffee break conversation about a foreign
persuasion. Rebecca is the lightning flash
of a red sweater hiding amidst a busy high street,
the smell of summer perfume on a supple breeze,
or the way the ginger girl on the subway platform
locked her hands like vices between her knees.

But Rebecca is still sunburnt in Georgia
and commonplace caricatures are not her,
just doppelgangers or distant relatives
without contact details, but with the same eyes.
They are brief imitations to spark frustrations
forming as flashbacks and parted points on a map
appearing always, but always welcome.
The day I go to work and don’t see Rebecca
is the day I lose her to Skype conversations
always ending in static silences, blank faced
like my own when the screen fades to black.

Chichester, October 2016


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